Every village in India will be connected, within 1,000 days, to a fibre optic cable network, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Independence Day today, while addressing the nation from Delhi's iconic Red Fort during a muted and restricted ceremony amid the coronavirus pandemic.
PM Modi said that prior to 2014 only 60 panchayats were connected to such networks, but that in five years since - after the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) swept to power - 1.5 lakh panchayats had gone online.
"Before 2014 only five dozen panchayats were connected with fibre optic network. In the last five years, 1.5 lakh gram panchayats have been connected. In the coming 1,000 days, every village will be connected," he declared.
Fibre optic networks are considered to be the future of high-speed broadband services, allowing data transference at speeds touching 10 GB per second.
Prime Minister Modi's government has frequently called for India's villages to get online, whether for healthcare, employment or education. Today he repeated that appeal, saying that participation of rural India was "necessary" to realise the dream of a "digital India".
"We are rapidly expanding our fibre optic network. It will reach every gram panchayat within 1,000 days." he asserted.
Days before, the Prime Minister inaugurated a 2,312 km submarine optic fibre cable linking Chennai and Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar. Developed at a cost of Rs 1,224 crore, the cable is expected to boost tourism and employment in the region, the PM said.
Meanwhile, in his Independence Day speech PM Modi also touched upon the National Education Policy, which was released last month, and said it would "help our students become global citizens".
"We have recently introduced a new education policy. This will shape the India of the 21st century. We will soon have citizens who shape a new India - ones who are global citizens, but know and understand their roots," he said.
The Prime Minister said the new policy, which has been criticised for saying that either one of the mother tongue or the local/regional language will be the medium of instruction up to Class 5 in all schools, was focused on research and development to make India a key R&D destination for the world.
PM Modi delivered his seventh consecutive Independence Day speech today, in a ceremony cut short and restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.